WARRI – As part of her contribution towards ensuring that local food production in the country continues to increase, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Chevron Nigeria Ltd (CNL) Joint Venture has trained 20 youths in the production of cassava, plantain and aquaculture.
In line with the General Memorandum of Understanding ( GMoU), of CNL, the 20 beneficiaries were selected from Itsekiri communities in Delta State for the capacity building in 2016 by the Itsekiri Regional Development Committee (IRDC) .
The beneficiaries were trained by agricultural experts from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, in partnership with PIND Foundation under the sponsorship of NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture as part of its corporate social responsibility.
Speaking at the colourful graduation ceremony that held on Thursday at the IRDC’s secretariat in Warri, General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs (PGPA), CNL, Mr Esimaje Brikinn, said the gesture was intended “to stimulate socio-economic development in the Regional Development Committees (RDCs) under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU), using agriculture and agribusiness as means of generating income and providing employment for youths.”
Represented by the Area Manager, PGPA, Field Operations, Mr Sam Daibo, Brikinn expressed joy at the vibrancy of the current IRDC executive and the commitment of the 20 beneficiaries “who have been trained to use Agriculture to create value in their environment.”
Speaking further, Daibo said “the project termed “Agripreneur Programme’ also aims to demonstrate the use of various opportunities that exist in the agricultural value chain to create wealth and achieve enhanced income and self-dependence among youth.
“Thus, the project is to specifically empower youths to embrace agriculture and agribusiness as an income generating activity, provide opportunity for stimulating socio-economic development in the selected communities, offering secondary benefits to the larger society as a whole.
According to him , the aim of the program was to ” Boost availability of agriculture produce for local community suppliers,” adding that the 20 beneficiaries had gone through a thorough process of capacity building in modern farming techniques.”
Daibo also hinted that another set of 40 agripreneurs would soon commence training to cater for youths from other Itsekiri communities in order to churn out a large crop of entrepreneurs in Agriculture who would help generate more value in the communities.
He maintained that the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture, which enjoys a robust partnership with the Delta State Government and communities around its areas of operations, has upped its commitment to responsible corporate citizenship through social investment programmes in the area of health, education and economic development.
Chairman of IRDC, Amb. Austin Oniyesan, who commended CNL, IITA, PIND Foundation and members of his executive for making the pilot programme a huge success in his remark, admonished the graduands to put, into judicious use, the training and start-up grant they had received.
Representative of IITA, Arome Alfa, who said that the agripreneur scheme has three phases of production, design into value addition and service provision, disclosed that some of the beneficiaries had already, on their own, commenced agricultural production immediately after the training was over.
Mrs. M.J Ogboru of the Delta State Ministry of Agriculture, who represented the State Commissioner for Agriculture, enjoined the beneficiaries to eschew squandering the grant on other projects not related to the one it has been given.
Meanwhile, four of the beneficiaries; Blessing Afini, Jemide Joseph, Austin Ikpi and Oris Ugbameta while sharing their knowledge in plantain, cassava and fish production, promised to boost agric production by their enterprise and inspiring other youths to buy into it.
Highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of certificates of participation and cheques to each beneficiary of the training by CNL’S Sam Daibo, representative of the Olu of Warri, Chief Francis Omatseye; Mrs Ogboru, Chairman of Warri South Local Government Area, Dr. Michael Tidi and CEO of Morgan Smart Development Foundation, Omawumi Urhobo, among others.